Sweden manager reveals his thoughts on Ireland and that first meeting with Zlatan Ibrahimovic

Off The Ball's Nathan Murphy caught up with Eric Hamren at the UEFA Workshop in Paris

Sweden, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Erik Hamren

Sweden's Zlatan Ibrahimovic, right, speaks to head coach Eric Hamren during a training session at the Euro 2012 soccer championship in Kiev, Ukraine, Thursday, June 14, 2012. (AP Photo/Sergei Grits)

Sweden manager Eric Hamren feels their opening Euro 2016 match against Ireland is a match-up of equals.

Off The Ball's Nathan Murphy caught up with him at the UEFA Workshops in Paris this week and Hamren told him there is nothing to choose between his side and Ireland ahead of the Group E opener on June 13th.

"I have a big respect for them. They made some really good results, for example [against] Germany and also the game against Poland, they didn't have the result but I thought the performance was good. And the playoffs, [they were] strong. We also know we're going to meet a team who is equal with us. If you see in the rankings too, we are close to each other," he said.

Group E managers (L-R) Antonio Conte of Italy, Erik Hamren of Sweden, Martin O'Neill of Republic of Ireland and Marc Wilmots of Belgium ©INPHO/Bernard Papon

He also spoke to Nathan about the role Sweden's main star Zlatan Ibrahimovic will play for him against Ireland and the rest and the attention he naturally receives.

"We can't do so much about it because he is a world class player - the only one we have - so of course he is really interesting for the media and for the supporters from every country too. So we're used to it and we really like it when we have a player like that. I wished I had more like him," he said.

"The first meeting with him clicked with him if I say so. Sometimes you meet a person for the first time and you feel like you have known him for a long, long time, almost your whole life and that was the feeling when I met him for the first time. He's been a fantastic player for me and a fantastic captain. He's taking that responsibility really, really seriously in my opinion, so I'm really satisfied with the work he has done during those years.

"We have the same attitude, Zlatan and I. One of his biggest strengths is he always wants to win, he always wants to be at his best and it doesn't matter the circumstances."